Home Builders Back Senate Bill Aimed at Fixing Affordable Housing Crisis

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A new bill that may fix the affordable housing crisis in Arkansas will receive its final vote Monday, February 25.

“The more rules and regulations you have, the more it’s telling people that are lower income that you don’t want them living in your city. And we don’t want that in Northwest Arkansas,” said Arkansas Representative Bart Hester.

Senate Bill 170 awaits approval on the house floor.

“Particularly in Northwest Arkansas when you see so much growth going on prices get elevated so fast. There’s nowhere for what we call, workforce housing, to live,” Hester said.

If passed, the bill would allow more affordable housing for work-force members like teachers, firefighters, police officers, and nurses.

“Arkansas has a shortage of affordable housing so we hope that it will encourage more building of affordable and attainable housing,” Arkansas Homebuilders Association Board of Directors Member, Ben Booth, said.

Booth said with the bill he hopes freedom is granted for all homebuyers in the Natural State.

“Dictating what kind of landscaping you have to have, what kind of brand or style of windows, or that the exterior has to be all brick,” Booth said. “We think it’s the individual homeowner, individual property right to build and buy what they chose.”

According to the National Association of Homebuilders, the average house in Fayetteville costs $225,000.

For every $1,000 added to the cost of a home, almost 400 homebuyers are priced out of the market. 

“We know in the next 10 years there’s going to be a shortage of affordable housing and we know between 20 and 25 percent of the cost of the home is already government regulations. So we felt we needed to stop it at the state level,” Booth said.

Commercial buildings, historical structures, multi-family homes and neighborhoods protected by their Property Owners Association (POA), are some of the exclusions to the bill.

The Arkansas Municipal League says they are neutral on the bill.

A position Booth calls a home run for homebuilders.

“We worked with them on some amendments to make sure they were with us and completely neutral on the bill. So it was a big win for homebuilders,” Booth said.

“This is a no brainer for the legislature to support the people and their property rights. But it certainly is going to make a bunch of Mayors upset that want to tell you what color to paint your house,” Hester said.

Senate Bill 170 will go up for a final vote on Monday, February 25. Stay with Fox 24 for updates.

For more information on the bill, click here.

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